- The Washington Times - Friday, November 10, 2000

New China spy agency

A U.S. government counterintelligence report we obtained identifies the New China News Agency as much more than Beijing's state-run news service. The June 2000 report, "Intelligence Threat Handbook," states that the agency, also known as Xinhua, "primarily engages in open-source collection" for the Chinese government.
"It has a staff of more than 5,000 employees operating out of over 90 bureaus and 300 offices in China and abroad; monitoring newspapers, magazines and broadcasts from around the world and conducting open-source analysis for the Chinese leadership," the secret report says.
"Given its global network and journalistic credentials, it often provides cover to Chinese intelligence operatives from other agencies," the report adds.
The handbook noted that Chinese intelligence in the past limited its use of reporter slots for spies to those working for Xinhua and the People's Daily.
"However, this practice has recently been extended to most major newspapers, including Guangming Daily, Economic Daily, China Youth News, and Workers' Daily, which have correspondents in the United States, Japan, Europe and other countries," the report said.
The internal report by the Interagency OPSEC Support Staff, a counterspy and security unit, helps explain why the U.S. government blocked Xinhua's recent purchase of an Arlington, Va., high-rise apartment complex overlooking the Pentagon. The State Department forced the Chinese government to sell the building after the illegal deal was exposed in The Washington Times.
The Arlington Ridge building had a clear eavesdropping line to the Pentagon. The report said China's electronic spying capability is "the third-largest SIGINT [signals intelligence] effort in the world," focusing mostly on U.S. and foreign military communications around the world.

Army berets (cont'd)

Army Special Operations Command has circulated a memo to commandos telling them to stop using official e-mail addresses to lampoon the Army chief of staff's decision to issue black berets to all soldiers, not just the elite.
The message went out Nov. 2 at the height of a bevy of e-mail messages among beret-wearing soldiers. There were cartoons making fun of the decision, references to Monica Lewinsky and her famous beret, and heavy criticism of Gen. Eric Shinseki, the chief of staff.
Brig. Gen. Frank Toney, commander of Green Berets at Fort Bragg, N.C., saw enough.
"Brig. Gen. Toney reminds the command the e-mail is for official use only," said a message to soldiers. "His directive is to cease and desist dissemination of emails regarding personal political views and personal views on the 'black beret' issue that recently surfaced."
Only three Army combatant units are now authorized to wear berets: Airborne troops (maroon); Special Forces (green); and Rangers (black). These soldiers complain that giving black berets to clerks, cooks and everyone else diminishes their symbol as elite warriors.
"Most of the gag orders have been coming down verbally through command channels," said one soldier. "I think the generals are finally smart enough to know that it's hard to cover your tracks if you put it down on paper or in an e-mail."

Secret arms deal

President Clinton's search for a legacy is leading to another questionable arms-control agreement with Russia.
Pentagon officials tell us arms negotiators are feverishly working on an agreement designed to prevent Russia from accidentally nuking us the next time Norway fires off a scientific rocket. That's what happened in January 1995 when jumpy Russian strategic-warning monitors told Russian President Boris Yeltsin the Norwegian weather rocket was a U.S. submarine-launched missile headed for the Kremlin men's room.
The warning prompted Mr. Yeltsin to turn on his nuclear "football" used to push "The Button" in ordering an all-out nuclear attack on the United States. Some intelligence officials said the incident was closer to a nuclear missile exchange than the Cuban Missile Crisis. Luckily, the Russians figured out they weren't under attack and stood down.
"It looks like the Clinton administration is determined to deliver one more arms control agreement before it leaves office in January," a defense source told us. The pact is being called a "presidential agreement" to avoid having to submit it to Congress, where skeptics are likely to see it as more an attempt at a presidential legacy than boosting national security.
The pact is known as the Pre and Post Launch Notification System (PPLNS). There are real fears within the Pentagon that "national security may be undermined instead of enhanced by the PPLNS," we are told.
"In the intervening years since the PPLNS was first conceived, it has been altered to the point where it doesn't address the very incident that started the process," one official said.
Senior defense officials have been considering whether the agreement in its current form is worth signing. The military services and intelligence community have discreetly raised objections to many provisions. But they have been muted by the haste to secure the agreement before the administration leaves office.
The notification system would give away important U.S. military and intelligence secrets that would help the Russians to defeat U.S. strategic-warning systems. That's what happened the last time the Russians were invited to monitor U.S. missile-warning systems in Colorado during the year 2000 rollover.
Moscow's ground forces launched Scud missiles against Chechnya so the Russians watching the launch on monitors in Colorado Springs could measure the sensitivity of the U.S. system, a key step toward fooling it or defeating it.
Defense officials also sought to keep private their concerns about the dangers of the U.S.-Russian PPLNS secret before the presidential election.

Cargo gap

A Pentagon insider tell us the department has completed its Mobility Requirements Study for the year 2005, but did not want to release it before Tuesday's election.
The reasons: For one, the study shows a big shortfall in sealift and airlift capability. Officials did not want to give George W. Bush another avenue to attack the Clinton administration's defense policies.
Secondly, there is a dispute between the Air Force and the civilian Program Analysis and Evaluation branch (PA&E;). The Air Force wants to buy more C-17s. PA&E; wants them to make do with upgraded C-5 cargo jets. It argues that, in time of war, the Air Force can readily lease commercial planes.

Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough are syndicated columnists. Mr. Gertz can be reached at 202/636-3274 or by e-mail at gertz@twtmail.com. Mr. Scarborough can be reached at 202/636-3208 or by e-mail at scarbo@twtmail.com.

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